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USGS prepared to face Hurricane season

USA, 25 May 2007: USGS has created specific action plans to prepare for the impending hurricane season that runs from June to October. The benefits from these action plans generated by USGS involve, improved monitoring of conditions on the ground from flooding and storm surges, enhanced ability to navigate in a disaster zone, and better assessments of the effect on coastlines and ecology.

Few of the major action plans made by USGS include:
Enhanced Monitoring of Floods and Storm Surge
Four major actions are underway to prepare for monitoring floods arising from hurricanes and other tropical storms. USGS activities include 1) strengthening streamgages along the Gulf Coast; 2) implementing rapidly deployable, mobile gages on streams; 3) developing capabilities to measure hurricane driven storm surges; and 4) installing an emergency satellite communications and data distribution system.

Expanded Participation in Disaster’s Charter
It is said that USGS is working with commercial satellite imagery firms to expand the global team of government and commercial space and satellite agencies that constitute the International Charter, “Space and Major Disasters.” This agreement provides emergency response satellite data free of charge to those affected by disasters anywhere in the world.

Geospatial Information Response Team
The USGS has established a Geospatial Information Response Team (GIRT) whose purpose is to ensure streamlined and responsive coordination and timely availability of geospatial information for effective Gulf and East coast storm response for emergency responders, land and resource managers, and scientific analysis. The GIRT is responsible for putting in place and monitoring procedures for geospatial data acquisition, processing, and archiving; data discovery, access, and delivery; anticipating geospatial needs; and other related geospatial products and services. During emergencies, the USGS Geospatial Information Response Team provides post-event airborne imagery within 24 hours upon request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Coastal Laser Mapping
Considering Gulf of Mexico and Florida east coasts as more vulnerable to storm surge and waves during the upcoming 2007 hurricane season, in the coming months, USGS and partners at NASA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will continue to assess extreme erosion and sand loss using airborne laser mapping before and after all major hurricanes that make landfall in the southeast U.S.

Hurricane Research
Research in USGS related to hurricanes includes: 1) radar-tracking of migratory birds during the fall migration period to assess possible effects of hurricanes on migration patterns; 2) studying global climate change and effects of sea-level rise on coastal wetlands and forests; 3) predicting the persistence of coastal wetlands to global climate change effects, including effects of altered temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide; 4) biogenic accretion through surface-root production in coastal wetlands and implications for elevation change relative to sea-level rise; 5) tracking and visualization of coastal restoration projects; 6) hurricane modelling including models of spread of invasive species via hurricane-force winds.